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Work of Heart: Wisconsin Log Home

A Wisconsin couple renovates their newlywed nest and creates an expanded home for the whole family to enjoy.
by Cheryl Kenny | Photos by James Ray Spahn

When David and Kathy Janczak were newlyweds in the early 1970s, David made a promise to build Kathy a beautiful log cabin. With more than a decade of building experience and years of studying log home construction under his belt, David knew he was up to the task. The couple found 20 acres of lush Wisconsin woods, the perfect spot for their first home, and hunkered down for what would be months of hard work.

On the exterior, manufactured stone that matches the natural fieldstone in the great room fireplace works with the warmth of logs and gable accents to create a welcoming presence.

Love’s Labor
David cut the home’s 12-to-16-inch-diameter logs from his father’s Wisconsin pine plantation before he and Kathy got to work peeling each and every one by hand. The finished product: A cozy, 1,500-square-foot lodge-style home with porches all around.

“Back then, people thought we were crazy, asking why we would ever want to live in a log cabin,” Kathy says, laughing. “But Dave and I both love their character and uniqueness. To me, a log home is very relaxing and peaceful.”

David’s labor of love was even covered in the local media, and soon other people sought his help in building their own log homes. As it turns out, David’s moment of fame opened the door to a new career, and in 1976 he founded Wisconsin Log Homes, which he continues to oversee today.

Chocolate and honey hues reign in the open kitchen where the Janczaks mixed materials like dark marble, stained hickory, pine, tile and metal for a diverse yet unified look.

Bigger is Better
In the 1980s, as their family began to grow, David and Kathy decided to add 1,200 square feet to their existing home. Then, two years ago, they made a bold move to incorporate what David describes as “30 years of ideas” into an inviting, renovated home with space to accommodate the large gatherings they love to host. “We wanted to create a new generation of log home with a mix of materials and a whole new feel,” David explains.

To achieve this new look, Kathy worked with Brian Delwiche, Wisconsin Log Home’s design manager, to devise a 5,690-square-foot home that complements, rather than overpowers, its natural setting. “Kathy wanted more space, but she also wanted to keep the quaintness of the cabin,” Brian notes.

The restful master bedroom includes a handmade quilt purchased at The Sewing Basket in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Wooded blinds are used throughout the bedrooms and office.

Using three-dimensional computer software programs, Brian created a welcoming exterior that includes angles, gables and windows of varying sizes and heights to de-emphasize the home’s size. The house is built with Wisconsin Log Homes’ Thermal-Log insulated building system, featuring an energy-smart core wall that’s airtight and draft-free.

This structured framework helps to reduce shrinkage and settling. The Janczaks decided on a 10-inch-diameter half-log profile, and also incorporated stone and shakes to add character. With the help of the Wisconsin Log Homes team, the project was completed in just nine months.


Great Indoors
Inside, David and Kathy kept the great room of their original cabin as the heart of their remodeled home. The space still features the massive fieldstone fireplace and thickly chinked log walls of the cabin. Although Kathy favored wood and chinking for the new rooms, David preferred a lighter look.

Chocolate and honey hues reign in the open kitchen where the Janczaks mixed materials like dark marble, stained hickory, pine, tile and metal for a diverse yet unified look.

“What I like best about the renovation is that it showcases our home’s surroundings,” Kathy says. “No matter where you are in the home, you can take in the beautiful views.”

The remodeled house includes four bedrooms plus a loft, which Kathy uses as her home office. A combined great room, dining and kitchen area, accompanied by a walkout basement and attached garage featuring an upstairs room with game and theater areas, round out the Janczak abode.

A screened-in porch off the dining and great rooms overlooks the back yard and a 2 1/2-acre stocked pond that’s often visited by deer, turkeys and other wildlife. A large deck connects to the porch and wraps around the side of the house.

Other home details include a wavy-edge pine trim that the Janczaks used around the windows and doors. The floors in the kitchen, great room and dining area are dark-stained, hand-scraped hickory and the wood ceilings are tongue-and-groove knotty pine.

And in the new dining area, which was originally the kitchen, they built a ceiling soffit, fitted with antique-style pressed tin, giving it a tray-ceiling appearance.

Colorful Personality
To add even more character to their home, Kathy asked Wisconsin Log Homes’ interior designer Stephanie Gauthier to help choose her color palette. Kathy had been partial to neutrals, but when Stephanie urged her to “go with what she loves,” Kathy thought of the sage greens and deep reds of sumac and flowering crab apple trees.

They used those hues as accents against a backdrop of warm caramel. “In log homes, rich colors with warm undertones and caramel shades complement well,” Stephanie notes.

For furnishings, Stephanie started with the Janczaks’ existing pieces, then incorporated new furniture, including some from Log Style Furniture, Wisconsin Log Home’s Design Center, to achieve a balance of scale and color. She mixed dark and light woods, different textures, including bark, leather and upholstery, and added touches of glass and textiles.

The result is what Stephanie terms a “sophisticated rustic” look. Sweet Spot For nearly 40 years, David and Kathy have loved their “log lodge in the woods.” Now there’s just more room for friends and family to enjoy it, too.

“This is a unique property, and we wanted a house that would complement it,” David says. “More importantly, our home is now a place for bringing people together; a gathering place for the ones we love.”

Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 5,690
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Produced & Designed: Wisconsin Log Homes
Builders: WLH Builders

Published in Country's Best Cabins
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One Response

  1. In this economy, it would be nice if more modest homes were sometimes showcased.

    Judi KlymAugust 6, 2009 @ 2:18 pmReply

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